Chrissy Teigen’s Comments About Miscarriage

Chrissy Teigen's Comments About Miscarriage
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend

Chrissy Teigen is a model, TV host, and wife of singer John Legend. She had a miscarriage in September of 2020 and shared the pain of that experience with her 34 million Instagram followers. In a picture in The Week magazine, with tears streaming down her face, she and her husband held a blanket-wrapped bundle. In the article, Chrissy Teigen’s comments about miscarriage impact the abortion debate.

Teigen says that sharing her experience with others has helped her deal with the “gut wrenching” grief of losing a baby. She does not refer to it as something other than a human being. She and her husband hold the miscarried child wrapped in a blanket as something precious and special. Teigen says, “I’m happy to talk about my uterus if that’s going to make other women feel that they can do it too.”

All scientific evidence points to the fact that a child in the uterus is still a child. It is not merely a part of the mother that can be removed as one would remove an appendix or a wisdom tooth. It is rare for a celebrity to come out with such an honest and accurate portrayal of the unborn. Chrissy Teigen’s comments about miscarriage contribute mightily to the discussion of what abortion really is. It is simply unadulterated infanticide.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Rerence: The May 7, 2021 issue of The Week magazine ((page 10).

Data on Neanderthals and DNA

Data on Neanderthals and DNA - Neanderthal Woman
Neanderthal Woman Sculpture in National Archaeological Museum of Madrid, Spain

News reports of the data on Neanderthals have often contained misinformation. Neanderthals (or Neandertals) were not apes, and they were not primitive subhumans. They engaged in activities similar to modern humans. Our suggestion for many years has been that we should think of the Neanderthals as a race of humans. When one looks at the different races of humans in today’s world, we see huge variations. A pygmy is much different from a Scandinavian, and yet from a scientific standpoint, they are one species. They can mate and produce fertile offspring, which was has been the usual way of defining a species.

The newest data on Neanderthals (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) is that they interbred with those we call Homo sapiens, and their genes are being discovered in populations in Europe and western Asia. Science News carried an article titled “Neanderthals and Humans Mated Often.” It reported on the DNA evidence linking Neanderthals to modern humans.

If scientists found the remains of Adam and Eve, what would their DNA look like? The Bible gives us no indication of what Adam and Eve were like regarding their race or physical characteristics. The sons of Noah were Ham, Shem, and Japheth. In the original Hebrew, Ham means dark-colored and Japheth means fair. The term Neanderthal comes from where scientists found their first bones in the Neander Valley of Germany. The name has nothing to do with skin color. If we found the fossil remains of Adam and Eve, what name would we give them?

The only thing we know is that Eve was the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20). How long ago she lived and how we would classify her today is pure speculation.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News for May 8 and May 22, 2021 (page 7)

Periodic Cicada or Magicicada

Periodic Cicada or Magicicada

In recent years, people have paid a great deal of attention to insects and how they benefit humans. Some insects pollinate our fruit trees. Others provide food for birds and a variety of mammals–even humans. Insects also help convert waste into valuable nutrients. One of the dangers to the total insect population is over predation because so many animals eat them. One insect species solves the problem in a unique way. It is the periodic cicada or Magicicada that appears every 17 years. These insects suddenly emerge from the ground in massive numbers, as many as 1.5 million per acre, to overwhelm their predators.

Dr. Cliff Sadof of Purdue University has headed up research into the life cycle of cicadas. He tells us why we will have a massive amount of noise during the coming weeks from treetops all around us here in Indiana and other areas of the eastern United States. When the soil temperature reaches 64 degrees F at a depth of eight inches, the periodic cicada or Magicicada will start crawling out of the ground. In massive numbers, they climb up trees to molt. After molting, their bodies will be white as they unfold new wings. In a few hours, their bodies will harden, and the males will fly into the treetops and start singing to attract females.

After mating, the females will lay eggs in twigs with a saw-like egg-laying device called an ovipositor. After the eggs hatch, the nymphs will fall from the treetops and burrow into the ground, where they feed on sap from the tree roots. Seventeen years later, the nymphs will emerge and become adult cicadas repeating the cycle.

The cicadas are easy to see, good to eat, and plentiful in huge numbers. Birds, squirrels, and other insect-eating animals will gorge on the cicadas giving other insects a reprieve to recover their numbers. The soil around the trees will be aerated and enriched. The process will prune upper tree branches encouraging new growth.

In Indiana and many other states, the cycle is 17 years. In other regions, the periodic cicada or Magicicada has a 13-year cycle. Trying to explain how such a system came into existence by chance requires a tremendous amount of imagination. We suggest that cicadas are another example of wisdom built into the natural world by God to allow life to exist on planet Earth.

— John N Clayton © 2021

Our thanks to David Harrington, who sent us this information from the Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Indiana.

How Little We Know – The Pulsating Earth

How Little We Know - The Pulsating Earth

The May 2021 issue of Discover magazine (page 20) carries an interesting article about a mystery that scientists have been unable to solve. The mystery is why planet Earth pulsates every 26 seconds. Researchers at the Lamont Geological Observatory first reported the pulsation in 1960. After more than 60 years, nobody has formulated an accepted explanation of why this is happening. The point here is not Earth’s pulsations but how little we know about creation.

In time someone will probably find an acceptable explanation for Earth’s pulsations. My point is the nature of human knowledge. We are all amazed at what science has accomplished. We watch the helicopter fly on Mars. We see the COVID vaccine developed in less than a year when it usually took half a decade to build a vaccine. We are amazed by new fabrics and the products of genetic engineering.

The fact is how little we know. Human knowledge is still very primitive compared to all that we observe. We are still struggling to understand what caused gravity. We are only dimly aware of the quantum world and how it forms the material we see around us. Our understanding of the human mind is so incomplete that experts in the field of brain study say we still don’t understand what 95% of the brain does. Perhaps the most significant gap in the knowledge and beliefs of many of us is the question of why there is something instead of nothing.

What little we do understand puts us in awe of the power and intelligence of God. Dr. Frank Baxter used to say that everything he knew as a scientist taught him, “That a wonder-working hand has gone before.” In Proverbs 8:4-5, Wisdom says it another way: “To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding.” The Psalmist said it this way:” When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him (Psalms 8:3-4).

Every bit of knowledge we acquire reminds us of how little we know and raises more questions for us to investigate. This is a wonderful time to be alive when so many of the secrets of God’s creation are just being discovered.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Discover magazine May 2021

No Room for Arrogance in Christianity

No Room for Arrogance

When I was an atheist, one thing that always turned me off was the seeming arrogance of religious people I knew. The “better than thou” attitude is not only unwarranted, but it is unscriptural. The Bible gives us no room for arrogance.

The classic biblical rebuttal of the attitude of arrogance is the parable Jesus taught in Luke 18:9-14. This parable was about a “religious” guy who did everything right religiously and a tax collector who was a Jew who betrayed his fellow Jews by working for the Roman government.

The Pharisee did everything right and told God about it. His opening line was, “I thank you that I am not like other men.” Then he went on to talk about all the good things he did. The tax collector looked down at the ground and “smote his breast,” which was a symbol of sorrow in that culture. Then he begged God for forgiveness. Luke tells us that Jesus “spoke this parable to those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others” (Luke 18:9).

Jesus and the apostles hit this theme over and over. In Luke 7:37-50, we see Christ contrasting the woman who was a sinner with the Pharisee, a part of the religious elite. Jesus praised her and held her actions up as exemplary while he condemned the Pharisee. In Romans 2:17-24, Paul addresses the hypocrisy of religious people who claim to be knowledgeable but don’t practice what they preach. In Matthew 5:14-16, Christ holds up His followers as people who are “the light of the world” for how they live.

It took me a long time as an atheist to realize the fact that “sitting in the chicken coup doesn’t make you a chicken.” Sitting in the Church building doesn’t make you a Christian. The assembly of Christians is not a venue to be entertained but a hospital for people seeking to be what God called them to be. If you are reading this and have been turned off by the arrogance and self-righteousness of people who claim to be Christians, please understand that those folks turned off Jesus Christ as well.

Philippians 2:5-8 reminds us that Christ “humbled himself by becoming obedient even to the point of death, even death on the cross.” How can any of us be very self-righteous or arrogant when we think about that statement. There is no room for arrogance in Christianity.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Happiness Comes from Following Christ’s Teaching

Happiness Comes from Following Christ's Teaching - Robert Ingersoll
Robert G. Ingersoll 1833-1899

Robert Ingersoll is an atheist hero because he traveled the country attacking God, Christianity, and the Bible in the nineteenth century. Ingersoll is quoted as saying, “The time to be happy is now, the place to be happy is here, the way to be happy is to make other people happy.” That statement is remarkably similar to the writings of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:10-13 and the words of Christ in John 16:22-24. Happiness comes from following Christ’s teaching.

Every attempt by atheists to provide an alternative to the teachings of Christ has ended up in frustration and pain. When an atheist built a town in Missouri with the name “Liberal,” it collapsed in a short time, with the founder saying he never again wanted to live in a town with no churches. Governments based on atheism in the past and today have not been successful in providing peace and prosperity for their citizens.

It is easy to attack Christianity while enjoying the blessings of Christ’s teachings. Offering a useful and positive alternative to what Jesus taught is another matter. As the United States drifts away from its Christian roots and embraces humanism, secularism, and atheism, we see an increase in suicides, shootings, racism, and abuse. Happiness comes from following Christ’s teaching.

When someone is incarcerated, the prison usually asks their religious beliefs for the record. Very few prisoners say “atheist,” “agnostic,” or “none.” In our prison work, we ask prisoners taking our correspondence courses to explain how they got to the point of being jailed. Merle Haggard wrote a song in which he said: “In spite of all my Sunday learning, to the wrong I kept on turning. No one could steer me right, but mother tried.” Haggard’s mother was a member of the Church of Christ, and his prison stint took place because he rejected the teachings he learned as a child. We hear that line over and over from many of our students in prison.

My father was an atheist, but he was a very moral man. I asked him one time why he was faithful to my mother. His response was, “I guess it is because of the way I was raised.” His father was a minister, and his mother was a strong Christian woman. Jesus said, “By their fruit you shall know them (Matthew 7:16). Atheism has no positive fruit in the long run. Happiness comes from following Christ’s teaching. Robert Ingersoll found a receptive audience only when he repeated the teachings of the Bible.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Inspiration for this came from Faulkner University spring bulletin 2021.

Solutions to the Mosquito Problems

Solutions to the Mosquito Problems
Damselfly

One of the big problems that humans face is mosquito infestations. Most of us know that mosquitoes can carry serious diseases, with malaria being at the top of the list. It is essential to understand that the presence of mosquitos is not a failure in God’s design of the natural world. What are the solutions to the mosquito problems?

Most mosquito species are pollinating insects. Of the problem species, only the females draw blood, usually from decaying remains of animals. Before humans invaded natural habitats, mosquitos were less of an issue than in modern times. The larvae do not survive well in running water, and mosquitos are such weak fliers that even a slight breeze will keep them at bay.

The human response to mosquitos has been badly misdirected. The most common response has been to spray areas with heavy doses of chemicals that kill mosquitos. The problem is that the spraying kills everything else as well. Pesticides do not discriminate between good insects and bad ones. Animals dependent on insects for food are radically affected by massive spraying. Since 1970, nearly three billion birds have disappeared from North America. The solution to mosquito problems is quite simple–let God’s natural agents control the mosquito population.

Dragonflies and damselflies are voracious mosquito eaters concentrating on mosquito larvae. Hummingbirds eat hundreds of insects every day. American bullfrogs have long sticky tongues designed to catch insects, and mosquitos are at the top of their list. Red-eared slider turtles are mosquito eaters, with one study showing a 99% drop in mosquito numbers in ditches where the turtles were introduced. Woodpeckers, warblers, and wrens all eat mosquitos. They are all solutions to the mosquito problems.

Mass spraying creates imbalances in insect populations and kills birds and animals that feed on mosquito larvae. The spray also has serious implications for humans who react to the chemicals, including some forms of cancer. Humans have contributed to the dilemma that mosquitos bring to all of us, but God has natural solutions to the mosquito problems.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from National Wildlife April/May issue 2021.

Legal Bias Against Christianity

Legal Bias Against Christianity

One of the peripheral issues to the COVID-19 pandemic has been the question of whether the government can shut down worship gatherings if it perceives they are spreading disease. There was a legal battle in California because the state had passed a law that said no more than three households could gather for religious services. Religious leaders said that the ruling stopped most Bible studies, prayer meetings, and other services in people’s homes and meeting places. The same law allowed more than three households to gather in hair salons, retail stores, movie theaters, and restaurants. Is it more dangerous for people to gather for religious purposes than for those other activities? Is there a legal bias against Christianity?

Early in the pandemic, the Supreme Court said that limiting worship to three households complied with the First Amendment. With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September and conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett taking Ginsburg’s place, the court changed direction. On April 9, 2021, the court ruled the state could not restrict religious worship and that the same precautions used for businesses had to must apply to churches.

We have pointed out that having large crowds is not required for Christian worship, so the ability to worship is not the question. The question is whether there is a legal bias against Christianity. Shouldn’t religious teaching and campaigns be allow to have the same freedom as businesses? There have been cases where the virus was spread through a lack of social distancing in religious activities and in other activities.

It does seem that the double standard of allowing movie theaters to operate and shutting down religious activities involving the same number of people is inconsistent. Legal bias against Christianity is certainly an issue here, and the problem is far from settled.

— John N. Clayto © 2021

Reference: USA TODAY 4/11/21.

Murder Hornet Madness

Murder Hornet Madness - Asian Giant Hornet
Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia)

The media can stir up unfounded and destructive emotional reactions to what, in reality, are minor events. In May of 2020, the media announced that Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) hornets had been found in Washington State and British Columbia. The media referred to them as “murder hornets” and expressed the fear that those hornets would sweep across the continent, killing people with their lethal stings. That caused some panic, especially in the eastern United States, which could be called “murder hornet madness.”

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven had numerous calls from people who believed they had a murder hornet in their backyard. In all cases so far, the specimen turned out to be a European hornet, bald face hornet, robber fly, or cicada-killer wasp.

To quell murder hornet madness, here are the facts about the Asian giant hornets from Science News:

1) They hunt for honeybees, not people, and the concern is for the honey industry, not because they will kill humans. A few months ago, we posted about how the honeybees have devised a defense against them.

2) Their nests have all been destroyed.

3) Studies show that migration to the east is almost impossible because of the mountains and other natural barriers in the way.

4) None of them have been seen anywhere but in the coastal ranges of Washington state and British Columbia. That is 3000 miles away from the people calling their local entomologists claiming to see them in their yards or parks.

Expert entomologist Gale Ridge, who has been working on the Asian giant hornet issue, says, “The combination of half-listening and overdramatization of the facts by the media creates an anxiety driven stew.” There is a threat to honeybees, making it essential to prevent this invasive species from getting a foothold in North America. However, Asian giant hornets are not a direct risk to humans.

We need to realize that the media are trying to get viewers and readers. They often overlook or overdramatize the facts, even creating “murder hornet madness.” That is true not just in cases of natural phenomena but also in politics and religion.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News, December 19, 2020 and January 2, 2021.

Learning from the Natural World

Learning from the Natural World

One of the ways people discover new materials and new applications is by learning from the natural world. Scientists have wondered how bugs that live in wet areas avoid water damage and bacterial infections. Researchers are using a fabrication process called nanoimprinting lithography to study the wings of Neotibicen pruinisus, the annual cicada found in the central region of the United States.

Cicada wings are made of a complex pillar-shaped nanostructure that repels water and prevents bacteria from establishing a foothold. New fabrication tools have enabled scientists to produce replicas of the wings and pillars. Entomologists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have reported that this work will be beneficial in engineering applications across various subjects–everything from aircraft wings to medical equipment.

We look at what we feel are simple forms of life and fail to realize the complexity of their design. Earth is full of examples like the Cicada. Researchers are learning from the natural world. Everywhere we look, we find a wonder-working hand has gone before to allow life to exist all over the planet.

When God wanted to convince Job of His intelligence, power, and design (Job 38-41), He used astronomical and geologic creations and the design of an assortment of living things. Job responded by saying, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3). We must continue learning from the natural world God created because there is still much we don’t know. That is not just true of the material world but also of the spiritual world as well.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: nsf.gov